Sunday, May 4, 2014

Estate Sale – How Does it Work?


Steven and I have spent the weekend making loads of progress, unpacking box after box of our stuff. Wait, what? That's right. I said UN-packing!

Five years ago we packed up all our considerable worldly goods in order to sell the Big Ass House and downsize into a smaller home. All of those worldly goods made the move with us, but not all of those boxes were unpacked in our new abode. From day one I have always said the way we planned to get rid of our stuff was by having an estate sale. In order to do that, we have to now unpack all those boxes, take what we want to keep and leave the rest to be sold.

If we knew for sure there was nothing in those boxes we wanted to keep, we wouldn't bother unpacking them. The estate sale team would do that for us. But I can't let go of stuff until I know for sure I'm not leaving something behind that I can't live without. So far, I haven't found much. Still, I feel the need to go through most of it before I can toss it on the "sell" shelf. And yeah, the shelves are for sale, too. The process of going through these boxes is easy, and for me, it is an important part of the emotional process of letting go.

photo 4
Everything must go (including the shelves!)

IMG_1183    photo 2 
Boxes everywhere, some unpacked, others waiting patiently.

So, how does the estate sale work? Between now and two weeks before the actual sale at the end of June, Steven and I will sort through our stuff, packing up what we want to keep at my parent's place in Texas. The kids pick out things they need for their apartments and the rest is designated for the sale. Then, we move everything we are keeping into one area in our home that will be off limits for buyers. That leaves the rest of the house free and clear for the estate team to do their thing.

Two weeks before the sale date, over several days, the estate team comes in and begins sorting and pricing. For some items, that takes a bit of research. During this process, they take photos of items and entire areas of items to be sold. This information is uploaded to their website, so buyers can take a look at what is being sold.

Once that is done, they begin the set-up. The team supplies all that is needed to set-up and display the items for sale. Anything we have that is being sold is also used for display. The estate team also does all the marketing, places ads, sends emails to their buyers list, and on the morning of the first sale day, place signage throughout our neighborhood. Our sale will take place over two days.

photo 3
Our garage is in chaos at the moment as we go through stuff for the keep or sell piles.

The company we are using is called Girlfriends Estate Sales and has considerable turnout for their events, up to 1000 people. I can't imagine ours will draw that many, but you never know. There are several people on the team stationed throughout the house to help buyers and to keep an eye on things. Only 25 people are allowed in the house at any given time.

On the first day, there is no negotiating on price. If someone wants to "bid" on an item for a lesser price, they can fill out a "bid ticket" stating their price, which must be at least 50% of the asking price. If the item has not sold at the end of the second day, the estate team starts calling. This process helps ensure there will be fewer items left unsold.

For items no one wants, and I'm sure there will be a few, the estate company arranges for them to be donated, and then provides us with the tax receipt. When we return home at the end of the second day, our house will be empty and broom-clean.

The thought of that makes me giddy. Other than spending time essentially saying goodbye to my stuff by unpacking boxes, we are doing very little work in order to sell our stuff. I can honestly say if it were up to me to sell it, though multiple garage sales or whatever, we might never get on the road.

photo 1    photo
Steven is on shredding duty. Going through 15 years worth of paperwork requires a protective dust mask.

The estate team collects state sales tax with each purchase and settles with the state. If a check from a buyer bounces, we still get the money, as they take full responsibility for collecting all proceeds. Ten days after the sale, the estate company brings us a check, proceeds less their fee of 35%.

Worth every damn penny!


  1. I agree, cheap at the price. I did the same thing and would do it again. I can't believe all the people who downsize by having multiple garage sales and putting ads on Craig's List. That takes so much time. I did some Craig's List sales at first, then I got very worried about my safety when a few people seemed to be "casing the joint." That's when I called the Estate Sales people and let them handle it all. Good luck on your sale. And yes, its soooo nice to just walk into a clean house when it's all over. :)

  2. Way to do it guys! One shot and then you are free to begin the rest of your life.

  3. sounds like it an interesting process going with an Estate Sale company, much easier than using Craig's list or having the never ending garage sale! the two of you seem to moving right along with the process!
    Happy shredding Steven..I have burned out a few shredders over the past few years!

  4. I LOVED the liberation of getting rid of all our "stuff". You are getting so close!

  5. What we learned from going full time is that all those things in the house is just stuff! We have wished for only 2 things in two years.

  6. Looks like a great way to get it all done at once! Since I've been retired over a year I've been doing it a little at a time with garage sales and CL. I'm one of those weird people who enjoys doing garage sales - therapy imminent. We have a veterans' organization who will come and pick up everything that's left on our last day, but I don't imagine they'll clean up :-(. Have fun!!!